Maybe you’re also noticing the workings of our spider friends, as their fastidiousness and delicate patterns are blooming everywhere now. These webs are resilient against the wind’s tugs and blasts, and miraculously stick to my eyelashes and hands when I blindly drive my body right into these cotton candy doilies. Yet the artists in residence never stick to or trip up on their own yarn, and seem more precise than Tibetan monks at their sand mandalas, even as they briskly present their next installation.
What really makes me pause is a spider’s web bejeweled with dew drops.
Even a photo can hypnotize me. This reminds me of Indra’s Web or Indra’s Knot, with its concept of interconnectedness.
“Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of the deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the Net’s every node, and since the net is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.” -Francis H. Cook, The Jewel Net of Indra
I am still as starry-eyed as a groupie when it comes to yoga’s richness, depth and breadth on interconnection. The 8 limbs, the yoga sutras, the ancient texts, are all connected, like the nodes of the pearly web. Each facet offers something new every time I study: anatomy, āsanas feel different each time I practice with awareness, meditation is like curtain #3 on Let’s Make a Deal – it could turn out to be a painted burrow or brilliant Nirvana. When I feel their interconnection inside my very body I remember that I am also a node.
Yoga can be practiced just as exercise and it can improve your physical health. Practicing āsana of any style will likely make you feel better, if even for only a short time. If you want more, if you are interested in connecting to your planet, its inhabitants, and beyond, yoga can facilitate this as well. I start by acknowledging the intricate webs within my body, the hard-working systems that cleanse my blood, turn my food into nourishment and poop, send messages from Mission Control along those neural pathways to the whole human container, seen and unseen. I just learned yesterday that along with muscles, organs and everything else, our bones are even woven into our inner spider webs of fascia. Look at this photo of fascia!
Get curious about your body and your wonder will not stop! Spider webs are inside and out!
The breath is a perfect way to feel connection. It bridges the mind and body, can happen consciously or even while sleeping, unconsciously. It connects us with the plants. Breath can be manipulated to rev up or downregulate the nervous system. We have heard a lot about breath these past 6 months. Is there any doubt that it connects us with one another? My breath could literally kill someone. My kids used to say this – prophets, I guess.
If we follow the poetry of Indra’s web, each of us is our own jewel. Maybe we’re more like pearls or spheres or tiny universes. It sure feels that way sometimes, that I have enough going on inside to fill at least one globe and maybe an IMAX theater. I can feel like I’m pretty unique and that no one understands my complexities. But as a jewel, I am a reflection of everyone else. I am also reflected in every other jewel, so have the opportunity to experience myself through them. I will push further and say that we actually are part of everyone else and they are of us. When I criticize or feel envy, when I compare or belittle, I am forgetting or pretending to forget that we are all riding this same web. It feels yucky! When I take the time to explore my own jewel-universe, and feel the web within, I have a navigational tool to use on the outside. Until yesterday, I understood my bones to be superficially linked via fascia, and now I can remember that their deepest parts are at one with fascia. Around me, I can try to transpose this into my relationships, with the hope that the deepest part of my humanity is continuous with the life that’s in all of us.
It’s not easy. I will confess that I’ve been rewatching just a few seconds of the VP debate, on Instagram, (the fly with the debates motel voice over), and laughing like an Irish bartender. I think it makes me feel less afraid, to laugh, and to see how human and vulnerable we all are, all the time. I hope you will find ways to laugh this week, as well as ways to feel connected.
Enjoy the spider webs if you can.